HAVANNA, CUBA- The latest chapter in Cuba’s economic crisis rattled the Caribbean island nation on Wednesday as citizens waited for hours, and sometimes days, in line for fuel in Havana.
Due to the acute shortages in the country’s most populous city, public transportation, tourists, and taxi drivers have all suffered in recent months.
“I’ve been three days waiting in this line for gasoline and we still don’t know if the (fuel) truck will arrive today,” said private taxi driver Alexander Pérez, 43. “The situation across the country is critical and the lines endless, and they don’t give any explanation.”
Uncertainty still surrounds the cause of the shortfall, one of the worst in months, if not the past year.
On Sunday, a report in state-run newspaper Granma addressed the issue, but is no longer available.
A copy of the report, reprinted in various independent media and seen by Reuters, acknowledges the supply issue and describes a new program temporarily prioritizing public transportation.
A request for comment on the shortages was not immediately answered by the Cuban government.
According to documents from Venezuela’s state company, PDVSA, and shipping data, oil supplies to Cuba have increased since early 2023. The company sent about 40,000 barrels per day (bpd) in January. As a result, February shipments rose to 52,000 bpd and March shipments rose to 76,000 bpd.
Among the latest supplies were 1.53 million barrels of Venezulean crude and fuel oil delivered by the supertanker Nolan around mid-March near Antilla, according to a satellite image obtained by TankerTrackers.com.
According to documents and data, Venezuela’s supply of clean refined products, especially gasoline and diesel, has been very limited lately.
On the island, drivers are drawn to those fuels, said Jorge Pinon, an energy policy expert at the University of Texas at Austin.
“There doesn’t appear to have been a decline in imports,” Piñon said. “The problem … seems to be related this time with insufficient production in domestic refineries, which creates a greater need for imported gasoline and diesel that Venezuela cannot satisfy.”
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